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Maine Congresswoman Pingree Calls for NLRB Investigation After Starbucks Abruptly Closes Unionized Portland Location

Workers at the busy Exchange Street Starbucks in Portland voted to unionize last month

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today called on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate Starbucks for blatant union-busting tactics. Pingree issued the following statement after Starbucks announced it would be closing a Portland location that recently unionized:

“Starbucks’ decision to close one of its busiest stores in Portland less than a month after workers formed a union appears to be a brazen violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The widespread practice of large multi-billion-dollar corporations punishing workers who collectively bargain is despicable. They must be held accountable. That’s why in early October I joined 30 of my House colleagues in proactively urging Starbucks to support and embrace workers legally organizing at their stores. I received a response from Starbucks saying the Fortune 500 company ‘remains committed to good faith negotiation and satisfying all collective bargaining obligations.’ Today we can confirm that was just lip service. The NLRB must investigate and protect workers in Maine and across the country.”

In July, Pingree also called for a NLRB investigation into Chipotle for closings its store in August, Maine within hours of workers filing to unionize. Pingree later highlighted the potentially illegal tactics in a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on removing barriers to organizing. During the hearing, fellow New England Representative Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) raised Pingree’s concerns, asking former NLRB Chair Mark Pearce for insight into how the NLRB can respond to these types of incidents.

Pingree and 30 of her Congressional colleagues urged Starbucks to embrace its unionizing stores, warning that the reported discrimination against unionizing employees “could set an alarming precedent that, in our opinion, is not consistent with U.S. labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act.”

In response to their letter, Starbucks claimed it “remains committed to good faith negotiation and satisfying all collective bargaining obligations.”

Pingree met with workers from the Exchange Street store in Portland just days before they officially formed a union on October 18, 2022.

In 2021, Pingree cosponsored and helped the House pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the most comprehensive pro-labor legislation in decades. 


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